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Take a closer look at the implications of legalizing recreational pot: Letter

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The Sept. 5 editorial, “NY Health Officials Make Compelling Case to Legalize Pot,” uncritically repeated the assertions of New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH) report  that reached the conclusion that legal pot’s benefits outweighed its risks. The report documented serious harms, but minimized them: youth past-month marijuana use increased 20 percent after legalization in Colorado; “8.9 to 30 percent of the population who uses marijuana will develop some form of dependence;” “adolescents who use marijuana regularly have an increased risk of developing psychosis;” and “there is an association between marijuana use and impairment in the cognitive domains of learning, memory and attention.”

In addition, the NYSDOH ignored other evidence coming out of states with legal recreational pot such as the fact that traffic deaths in Colorado reached highest number in more than a decade in 2017 while falling across the United States.

Despite all these harms, the NYSDOH claimed that allowing commercial sales of recreational pot will improve health. They relied on the opinion of one fringe organization, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, formed three years ago for the sole purpose of advocating for legal marijuana.

On the other hand, almost all mainstream medical organizations either oppose legal recreational pot or have serious reservations.

The only people who benefit from racing to legalize commercial marijuana sales are the cannabis industry. The rest of us are better served by a long, sober look at the implications of widespread, legal recreational pot.

Russell Kamer, MD

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